Merlin’s First Quarter Review




Merlin’s First Quarter Review


Wow, a 4-0 quarter. Unexpected, joyful, but there are troubling signs under the glitter of being the last undefeated team in the NFL. It’s time for the first quarter review.


Game one, New England, on the road, national TV audience, Super Bowl banner being raised. To date, Tom Brady is 102-19 at home. That includes the loss to the Chiefs. That’s a loss percentage of a little over 18%. Simply put, it was a statement win by the Chiefs. It thrust the Chiefs firmly in the playoff picture and Super Bowl conversation. Then there was the matter of having the heart and soul of the defense ripped out of the Chiefs for the season. Hopefully, it will not prove to be a pyrrhic victory.


Game two, home opener against the Eagles. Another tough game, another man down. This time, Mitch Morse. Game three, the Chargers, Dee Ford goes down. Game four, LDT goes down. None of those three players are back as of this writing.


What have we learned?


The Chiefs are for real. This is a team that deserves to be in the Super Bowl conversation. Good teams finish games well and the Chiefs have owned the 4th Quarter.


Kareem Hunt is for real. He has been nothing short of spectacular. Like the Chiefs, he is better in the second half than the first. He just doesn’t go down often on first contact. Hunt is a treat to watch.


Alex Smith is playing about as well as you can expect him to play. He is being a bit more aggressive pushing the ball downfield. His running has saved the day. His pass on the run to Albert Wilson on the game winning drive against Washington was a thing of beauty.


The offensive line has struggled in pass protection. Granted, they were going against some very good pass rushers, but they are giving up far too much pressure.


Speaking of pressure, the defense is not generating enough consistent pressure. The absences of Dee Ford and Tamba Hali are being felt.


Andy Reid is ahead of the offensive curve. His emphasis on versatile offensive weapons (Kelce, Hill, and Hunt) has enabled him to use a lot of different looks and lots of motion to really confuse a defense. Defenses have a very hard time preparing for the Chiefs.


Taking a Look Ahead


The schedule alternates between away and home games. At the Texans is followed by a home date against the Steelers. Then the Chiefs Go to the Raiders on a short week. It’s one of those pathetic Thursday night games. Really NFL? You are not making enough money? Thursday night games are brutal on players and ought to be banned. When it come to money versus player health, bet on money every time. Then the Chiefs get a long break. It’s a home Monday night game with the Broncos. Andy Reid does very well when he had some extra time to prepare for an opponent. Bet on the Chiefs there. The Raider game will depend on the availability/effectiveness of David Carr. The Texans look tough and the Steelers always are. Both those games could be important for playoff seeding.


Enough Causes for Concern


The first has to be attrition. As deep as the Chiefs are, they can’t afford to keep losing starting players each game.


Kareem Hunt staying effective. As great as Hunt has been so far. I have some major concerns going forward. Rookies tend to hit a wall later in the season. They are not used to the longer NFL season. Hunt takes a pounding as he stays on his feet and his workload has been high. This is not a recipe for late season success. The Chiefs need to reduce his workload a bit and keep him effective during the whole season.


Offensive line effectiveness. Parker Ehinger is needed back ASAP. Getting the Chiefs line back healthy is very important. I have criticized Zach Fulton many times, but he is filling in well at Center.


The Chiefs have to generate more pressure. Is this time for some Kpass action? Will Sutton start to dial up more blitzes?


That’s my take on things. Sound off in the comments and Go shovel pass!



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  • berttheclock

    With the ability of Watson to run the ball, the one player who will not be playing tonight concerns me the most. I know how many feel about the play of Dee Ford. Yes, he has problems setting the edge. But, he is best in the pursuit game when he can use his speed to chase and pressure QBs who are trying to run away from him.

    However, one point I would like to emphasize is to highly recommend to any reader to head over to AP and read the excellent review of the play of Ragland by KelceKrazies. In that review, he notes that Ragland brings something to the Chiefs which has not been seen in several years by an ILB. Now, Ragland does not possess lateral speed, but, he really understands how to read opponents’ schemes and he was the only player last week to adjust to the needed run lanes before the play began. Plus, he knows how to use his hands and his power to fend off blockers. Washington tried using spreads to open cut back lanes. Ragland was smart enough to realize what they were trying to do. Yes, his impact hits at times might have been harder, but, remember, this was his first game in a while and he is still learning Sutton’s schemes, as well. He brings life to the ILB position.

    • I was very pleased with the analysis. It mirrors my own and again, I am saying that Ragland was a player on my draft list and I thought he was just what KC needed.

  • berttheclock

    A couple of days ago, I read a thread about Gronk talking of how Belichick prepares his team for the propensities of the ref crew they will face for each game. Gronk is still bothered by the fact certain crews call more offensive pass interference penalties than other crews. He noted something which has bothered myself for a long time. No two NFL crews call the same types of penalties. Each crew has its own version of what they consider to be important or unimportant. That should be addressed by the league office. There should be consistency in flag throwing or not throwing by the crews. You can’t have some leading refs only lean towards whatever college conference they come from instead of following an established NFL protocol. For example, Walt Anderson is the head of the Big 12 refs and he calls more of what that conference believes to be the most important. Other refs come from heading the Pac 12 or the SEC, while, others come out of the Big 10 or Big East. There should only be what 345 Park Avenue considers to be the most important things to flag. This year that appears to be hands to the face with targeting possibly coming in a distant second. In current college ball, targeting has taken the front and center position. Why is it so hard for the NFL to not be consistent with their crews?

    For example, the crew tonight will be Ron Torbert’s crew. They covered the Chiefs last year in the regular season game against the Steelers. In that game, they flagged the Steelers 7 times and the Chiefs 9 times. Not really surprising as the Chiefs for many unexplained reasons seem to rack up more flags against them than other teams. But, more importantly, Torbert for whatever reason is at the bottom of the list of crews for flagging hits to the QB. With the added pressure being brought to bare by the mostly back up offensive line, this could cause a problem for Alex Smith tonight.

    • agreed. now I had to cut and past to get this on the correct post — it should be uniform. At the same time, coaches know what to expect from each crew. It’s a shame they have to adjust and warn about which crew does what (playing the freakin’ officiating).

  • freshmeat62

    I don’t like this Chief’s defense at all. This 3 man rush, dropping 8 has been working in that there isn’t a lot of scoring against it, but it sure seems that the opponents are marching up and down the field at will. They’ve done this for 4 weeks now, so I imagine the other teams have noticed and will be preparing for it. I too worry about Watson’s ability to run, so I’d expect Houston and Zombo doing more boxing in containing Watson, and not trying to cover some speedy receiver. Watching Houston laboring at trying to stay w/ Vernon Davis last week was very scary. Davis was zig zagging all over the field while Houston pretty much ran a straight line, and was still losing ground. Also DJ isn’t what he was a couple years ago. He has really slowed down.

    So far they haven’t overused Hunt. Last week he had 25 touches which is the most he’s had this year. I hope they don’t go over that in any game this year. The previous 2 games it was less than 20 touches. So hopefully he won’t wear down later in the season. I would like to see more downfield throws, but this might not be the week to do that w/ Watt and Clowney putting pressure on. Considering how banged up the o-line is, I thought they did a decent job last week w/ the 3 interior guys being backups. They had a few breakdowns, but overall I thought they did a decent job.

    I too hate Thursday nite games for the very reason you mention. I’m surprised the players union doesn’t object on those grounds. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a Thursday game that the Chiefs weren’t in. Hopefully in the next contract negotiations they’ll fight it. So long as the owners can make a dime, they’ll do it.

    You mention Carr. This has been going thru my mind for most of the season, but is Carr really as good as everyone likes to say? Personally I’m not that impressed w/ him. True he has some really good games where he looks great, but then he comes along and has games where he can’t come close to his receivers. I know he’s had a bunch of drops by Cooper and Crabtree, but he has a bunch of games where he looks awful. I think a lot of the hype comes from the fact his brother is on NFL Net blowing his horn all of the time.

    • berttheclock

      The most weird aspect of the Raiders so far this year appears to be their veteran highly paid offensive line is nether pass blocking nor run blocking.

      • berttheclock

        freshmeat, your comment about “owners can make a dime, they’ll do it” fits another issue. Now, I DO NOT want to change the direction of this thread into another “National Anthem” rant, but, did you know that prior to 2009 NFL players were all kept in their respective locker rooms until after the National Anthem was played. Then, the DOD decided to give out millions to the NFL to promote military recruitment and demanded that players come out for the anthem. Plus, DOD was eager to have military jet flyovers and any other usage to help recruit. In addition, DOD gave more millions to the NBA, MLB, professional soccer and hockey teams to promote “Patriotism” to help recruitment. This came out of a 2015 study by the two Republican Arizona Senators, McCain and Flake. McCain demanded to know why money had to be spent for recruitment? DOD reversed their policy and dropped handing out money to professional sporting organizations.

        But, when money was passed out to the NFL owners, none of them turned any of it down. Prior to my enlisting in the US Army in KCK, I do not recall seeing anything patriotic moving me to do so. I just happened to truly believe in the concept of the Citizen Soldier. I still believe there should be some form of national service required of anyone, whether they serve in the military or in hospitals across this land or even go into rural areas to teach. Give back something to this great nation.

        • Until the 1960s, there wasn’t any public opposition to the Military or service. I have no opposition to that required service. I believe in it. Our culture has shifted so far to dependent children at age 25 because they have not had enough Shut up, suit up and grow up discipline. Remember. You were coming of age at the time of Ike, the Post-WWII era was quite different in the late 40s-50s and I remember enough about Eisenhower and a relief that the war was over to appreciate him even at my tender age of 8 for example. I do recall 56 and being pissed at Dad because I wanted him to have catch and pitch to me and he was stuck to the TV when he was home. He hated Stevenson and that egg-head ilk(so there you go, my political influence from “Daddy”).

    • second time around? DC’s have made the adjustment. Now, let’s go look at Dallas and their QB and how the league’s DC’s have countered. We often make a huge miscalulation in this regard. Oh, while I am at it/ Cam Newton. Russell Wilson has had a lot of difficulties as well. If I then adjust to two QBs: Brady and Rodgers, they are tops. But at the same time, I review the KC WCO and Smith and what I have always believed he could do? I am pleased with him as punch. The playbook is opened and that is crucial. Having the added emphasis of a new guy on the block to push him — part of both but with Hill, Conley, Hunt and of course Kelce? All of a sudden, what was missing the previous 2 season has arrived(Charles was out most of those 2, hence, a non-factor and that is why he was not retained — no guarantee of recovery, saving to the cap and it is proved out with his play at Denver).

  • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

    I’m pretty nervous about the situation at RG with LDT still unable to suit up……….and of all times, facing JJ Watt who even the best of the best have a hard time containing.

    • ladner morse

      When JJ Watt roams around and changes position whenever he wants… that’s when he can be trouble because how do you prepare for that? You can’t. Then when he’s over the Guards it becomes a nightmare. Still… Reid knows this and has successfully prepared for Watt before and even minimized his impact. Will be fun to see who wins this little chess match.

      • berttheclock

        Laddie, you have been around the league a few times, right? I mean you understand what the NFL was in the days of Dynasties of yore. Don’t you think Pete Rozelle would be thrilled if he were here today watching what he really wanted for the NFL and that is, P-A-R-I-T-Y? There is no team in the league which looks to be even close to being a Dynasty team. Most, including the Chiefs are just trying their best to stay healthy enough to prevail.

        • ladner morse

          It’s kind of sad really. Look back at the Bengals two years ago and it looked like they were building momentum to be one of the leagues best and maybe on the road to a Super Bowl but…… now they appear to be headed in the wrong direction. This same “parity” story can be seen around the league every year. 4 years ago it was the Colt looking to break through. At the moment they’re bottom dwellers. Over the past decade every team seems to have ridden this parity roller coaster… except maybe the Browns.

          • the injury reports have a lot to do with that — and the depth of the team at the 2nd level for each position. This, btw, is where I think the Chiefs are in a good position to cover injuries (that are not season ending). If you think on this, The Chiefs had Morse, LD-T and Fish all with injuries. Fortunately thus far, they have countered these missing pieces effectively. — Of course, nothing to do about replacing Berry’s skill and talent. That requires a DC to figure out how to get around the loss of that leadership and play on the field.

  • ladner morse
  • Merlin… good observations. I keep expecting Kpass to get into things. I am still waiting. I was looking last weekend at all the other teams struggling with injuries so we should not be surprised about this. Thus far, especially with the OL taking hits(and not counting the loss of Eric Berry), the Chiefs are fortunate overall. Guys are coming back. I was really worried about LD-T going down.

    • berttheclock

      Hey, I posted a comment below concerning the excellent breakdown by KelceKrazies over at AP concerning the recent play of Ragland. Have you read it? Great analysis and you will truly understand what he meant by Ragland being the only LB to adjust prior to the snap for what he believed to be a running lane.

      • still catching up… Those are pretty good marks for a player in his first start. We’ll see more but one thing I can say about his play in his first game is that when he was reading the run between tackles, filling holes, shedding blockers, etc… he was what I would say to be equal to the task and more. His pass defense? He dropped appropriately into coverage and was in position to make a play — every time. He may not have the “speed” of Ramik Wilson for example, but here is what I am going to say about that: He has DJ next to him. He reads the plays and works to make the play at the point of attack when it is away from him. Knowing where it is going and getting to that point is crucial and you don’t have to have speed if you know how to get to that point. I agree with the assessment that he could attack the plays away from with more force, taking on a blocker to let someone else to make the tackle but I can only say I think I saw that once. I am very pleased with picking up Reggie, as you have noted. I cannot see any point where Ragland did not adjust properly. I will note that sometimes you don’t line up over the split, covering yourself with the defensive lineman in front of you. Challenging them to run to that hole. We’ll have to see how it goes along and how the defense set is called. Again, he brought a lot to the game for his first real “start”.

      • ladner morse

        I read it. That was a great piece with excellent observations. Very fair-minded too… which I appreciate a lot. What the piece does show is that there is great hope in Ragland and I’d like to see him on the field a much more today.